New Research Reveals 3 Strategies to Achieving Sales Quota

December 10, 2019

Editor’s Note: This guest post was contributed by Julie Thomas, CEO of ValueSelling Associates.

Despite the fact that sales reps have more customer data, technology and tools to sell better, faster and more efficiently, they still struggle to close deals. If fact, 57% of sales professionals surveyed in Salesforce’s State of the Sales 2018 report said they do not expect to make their quota. This made me and many sales leaders wonder why sales teams are missing quota.

With this question in mind, ValueSelling Associates and Selling Power Magazine surveyed 300 U.S. business-to-business (B2B) sales professionals — including individual contributors and sales leaders. According to the research findings, we learned the three biggest obstacles that impact sales quota attainment are having enough sales pipeline, having the right sales process, and the salesperson’s ability to communicate value to the prospect or customer.

Effective Strategies to Improve Sales Quota Attainment

Our research study revealed that salespeople who are likely to miss quota and underperform receive moderate-to-low levels of sales training (on both product and skills), lack a simple sales process to follow, and are usually not taught how to communicate value to customers. Here are three critical actions sales leaders can employ to help reps consistently achieve their quotas.

#1: Keep the sales pipeline full

When we asked sales leaders if their reps have enough pipeline to meet quota, nearly half (48%) said no. Salespeople agreed with 69% saying they do not have enough leads in their pipeline to meet quota.

To address this issue, sales leaders need to create a consistent framework for prospecting. Having a good handle on where the deals are and what is keeping them from moving forward is a solid strategy that will improve the win rate of deals you include in your forecast. First, help your sales reps calculate and commit to a set amount of prospecting time to help keep the sales pipeline full. Investing the time to do this upfront work and then continually qualifying opportunities throughout the sales cycle will not only lead to qualified leads in the forecast, but it will improve the odds of winning opportunities and meeting or exceeding your target. Second, provide reps with proper sales training to build the skills they need to move the sale forward. Confident reps are more likely to make their prospecting calls and follow a prospecting discipline.

For more prospecting strategies, read my LinkedIn Sales Blog post titled, “Confirm These 3 Things and Move Everyone Closer to a Sale.”

#2: Create a simple sales process

While 70% of sales leaders report they have outlined a clear sales process for their sales reps to follow, they are not confident that reps consistently — or ever — follow the process with prospects.

A process is similar to a recipe. When your reps consistently use the ingredients and steps in your process, they will have a predictable outcome — knowing when and if prospects and customers will buy. A common process that everyone understands and adheres to also helps sales leaders allocate scarce resources, determine which opportunities to accelerate, and scale the business.

Salespeople need a simple sales process they can easily follow. “Simple” is the key word. Many sales teams make the mistake of creating a process that has too many steps or causes the reps to devote too much time to non-selling activities. Simplicity paves the way for consistency and consistent efforts produce winning results.

#3: Help reps communicate value

Sixty-two percent of salespeople who are not meeting their sales quota say they’re not taught to communicate value. Meanwhile, 72% of sales leaders reported they do teach reps how to communicate value.

While sales leaders and salespeople disagree about the level of training provided, one thing seems clear: if reps truly grasped how to sell value and received proper training on this skill, they’d be closer to achieving quota.

Opportunities typically stall when they are not fully qualified, and oftentimes the value component is missing. A sales rep may engage with a potential buyer and talk about their potential problems, but if he never discusses the impact or the measurable value to their business, the sale is positioned as a “nice to have” not a “must have,” and the buyer isn’t able to justify the purchase.

In today’s world, buyers are competing for capital and each purchase decision must be justified. Your buyer is determining which project to take on, and this is where value becomes so important to help them compete for capital and get the funding they need to solve the problems your solution delivers. Even though it may not be a competitive situation, your project needs to take precedence over another potential project to get the funding.

Meeting and surpassing quota is all about selling behaviors.

As the study demonstrates, salespeople who do not receive the proper training or coaching tend to underperform. Sales training enables your team to create opportunities to fill the pipeline, follow a simple and consistent process to engage potential buyers, and communicate value by focusing on the buyer’s need (not your own need to close the sale).  

For more intel on how to crush your sales quota, subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales Blog.